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CSUB professor helps create eco friendly way to fill potholes

Posted at 2:56 AM, Sep 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-07 08:47:49-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Doctor ZhongZhe Liu is an Assistant Engineering Professor at Cal State Bakersfield, but that’s not all he does. He’s on a research team that is developing a new, cost-efficient road patch material.

“I think we’ve found another way to reuse this material because this byproduct, wastewater grit, has never been studied before," said Liu.

According to the American Chemical Society, the asphalt currently used to fill potholes can pollute the environment. Liu said the material his team created, called GAP, or Grit Assisted Patch, is an inexpensive, eco-friendly alternative.

Grit is the remnants leftover after wastewater is processed at a treatment plant. It’s mostly sand and gravel. Usually grit is buried in a landfill, but now Liu’s team is re-purposing it.

“So, we add some water," said Liu.

These are the steps taken to turn grit into road patch material. They use chemicals that usually treat hazardous or radioactive waste to kill unhealthy pathogens.

“And then, the first step, we need to add some calcium oxide," said Liu.

Add in magnesium oxide and a weak acid too, and the pathogens are killed using inexpensive components that are non-toxic to people.

“Now we fill the pothole right away, and after a couple minutes, this material will be solidified and the pothole will be repaired," said Liu.

The rest of Liu’s team resides in Wisconsin where he was originally a research assistant. They will field-test the material on real roads this winter. and if it can withstand the harsh weather on actual pavement, Liu says they hope to introduce this product to the real world.

“We’re very excited. I mean we made it," said Liu.

Liu said right now his team has filed a patent and they’re working on strengthening the material’s durability even more. He said they are excited to see where the next steps lead them.

If you’d like to read an in-depth explanation of this new material, click here.